Friday, December 3, 2010

Christmas penny books & $1 holiday music


Saturday, November 27, 2010

Kindle Books for Kids (some for FREE!)


Have a Kindle or thinking of giving one as a gift? You might not have realized it, but children's literature is also available for download to your e-reader!  Here are some examples (and some are FREE!):


Don't have a Kindle yet? You can also read these books on your PC, iPhone/iPod Touch, Blackberry or Android!

Friday, November 26, 2010

Not sure what to write?

Teachers and parents, you may be unsure of where to start when teaching your child how to comment on a book.  The National Assessment of Educational Progress (the only nationwide assessment for literacy that can also be used for both national and international comparison) has developed a framework with three main targets for reading comprehension. These targets apply mainly to grades 4-12 but can be adapted for use at other levels. 

You can use these targets to think of ideas for comments.

  • Locate and Recall: When locating or recalling information from what they have read, students may identify explicitly stated main ideas or may focus on specific elements of a story.

  • Example: "The main idea of this book/story was..." or "These are the main characters in the book..."

  • Integrate and Interpret: When integrating and interpreting what they have read, students may make comparisons, explain character motivation, or examine relations of ideas across the text.

  • Example: "The character acted that way because..." or "These two characters were similar in the way..."

  • Critique and Evaluate: When critiquing or evaluating what they have read, students view the text critically by examining it from numerous perspectives or may evaluate overall text quality or the effectiveness of particular aspects of the text.

  • Example: "I was disappointed by the ending because..." or "This reminded me of my favorite book..."

  • Don't be nervous! Try your hand at posting some comments today! 

    Wednesday, November 24, 2010

    Disney/Pixar Storybook Collection


    A bit commercial, I know...but still extremely popular with the younger set!

    Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Ugly Truth


    This series is beloved by kids of all ages, and its wry humor will amuse teachers & parents, too!

    Tuesday, November 23, 2010

    The Last Train


    The Last Train, written by acclaimed musician Gordon Titcomb with luminous paintings by Wendell Minor is a perfect book for train lovers of all ages, and is made to order for parents, and grandparents, to share with the little ones in their lives... especially with the Live Oak Media readalong version of the book, featuring Titcomb reading and performing the lyrics of the book, which are based on his song of the same name. This stunning book both celebrates and eulogizes the golden era of railway travel.

    -as described by Anonymous in "Requested Books"

    Hanukkah Books

    Hanukkah begins December 1st, 2010! Everyone loves gelt & gifts - so celebrate with books for a penny!


    Bear Snores On

    by Karma Wilson

    A cozy book for the approaching cold weather! "Cozy down...and dig in", as the badger says, to this playful rhyming story with absolutely gorgeous illustrations by Jane Chapman.

    Make reading this story even more fun by sharing snacks with the animal characters:

    It's a Book

    by Lane Smith

    Of course I had to post this! The perfect storm of my two favorite things: literacy & technology.

    My questions to my readers: is it possible for both to live harmoniously in today's world? Which way do you read more often - online or on paper? Which do you prefer?

    Monday, November 22, 2010

    Letters About Literature 2010

    Students, it's time again for Letters about Literature! (Teachers, click here for specific information on how to enter.) You could win Target gift cards worth $50-$500, plus up to $10,000 for your school!  If you didn't enter last year, here's an excerpt from the LAL website reminding everyone how to write a letter:

    Books have wings. You can’t see them, but they are there just the same. On books’ wings, readers can soar to new places where they meet intriguing characters and experience exciting adventures. But a book’s wings can also help a reader rise above difficult situations — like peer pressure, bullying or prejudice, or to cope with disappointment and loss.
    Have you ever felt the power and lift of literature? Has one book — or perhaps one author — inspired you to change your view of yourself or your world? If so, we encourage you to enter this year’s Letters About Literature writing competition. All you have to do is write a personal letter to an author, explaining how his or her work affected you.
    Before you can enter, you have to write the letter.And before you can write the letter, you've got tothink about how YOU responded to the book.
    First, reflect and connect!
    Select a fiction or nonfiction book, a short story, poem, essay or speech (sorry, no song lyrics) you have read and about which you have strong feelings. Explore those feelings and why you reacted the way you did during or after reading the author’s work. Consider one or more of these questions when writing your letter:
    • Did the characters, conflict or setting mirror your life in some way?
    • What strengths or flaws do you share with a character or characters in the book?
    • What did the book show you about your world that you never noticed before?
    • What surprised you about yourself while you were reading this book?
    • Why was this work meaningful to you?
    • As  you were reading, what did you remember about yourself or something you experiencedin the past?
    • How did the book's characters or theme help you to understand that past experience?
    Your letter need not -- and in fact, should not -- answer every one of the questions above. The questions are just prewriting prompts to get you to start reflecting (or thinking) about your reader's response to the book. 
    Second, write a personal letter (not a fan letter or a book report!)
    Express yourself! A letter is less formal than an essay or research paper. Write honestly and in your own voice, as if you were having a conversation with the author. Those are the best letters to read and the most fun to write! Keep in mind these two tips:
    • Correspond, don’t compliment! Your entry should inform rather than flatter the author.
    • Do not summarize the book’s plot! The author wrote the book and already knows what happened. What the author doesn’t know is how the book affected you.

    Third, prepare your letter for submission.
    • Entries for Level 1 should be no less than 100 words and no more than 400 words.*
    • Entries for Level 2 should be no less than 300 words and no more than 600 words.*
    • Entries for Level 3 should be no less than 500 words and no more than 800 words.*
    *Recommended lengths.
    Please refer to the Contest Entry Guidelines in Rules #4 of the Official Rules found for complete information on how to prepare your letter.

    Friday, November 19, 2010

    How to Use the Book Blog as a Literacy Center


    Recently, a teacher asked me how to use this blog as a reading & writing center. First, I encourage teachers to browse the blog and experiment with some of the options before presenting it to your students. When you're ready to try it as an independent or guided center, here are some ways to use it in your classroom!


    • Locate books from your classroom library on the blog.
    • Comment with one thing you know about the book.
    • Summarize the plot in the comments section of a book post.
    • Visit Book Adventure (see "Links for Readers"), create an account & take quizzes to earn rewards for books you've found & read from the blog.
    • For weekly homework, comment on at least one book & respond to at least one post of someone else's.
    • Request your favorite books to be added.
    • Reward fast finishers with time on the blog for browsing, reading summaries or commenting on posts.
    • Ask students to write on the blog instead of writing a book report.
    • Students can post graphic organizers (such as story maps) directly to the blog using (a free web version of Inspiration/Kidspiration).
    • Use "Links for Readers" for creative project alternatives.
    High School/College:
    • Use the blog as a form of literary social media - encourage discussions, dissension, critiques, chatting (on topic, of course). Students can connect their comments to their other online profiles using OpenID or Google accounts.
    • Use "Links for Readers" for creative project alternatives: try Glogster instead of a triboard for presentations, use Capzles to create more lively timelines, encourage peer and self-reflection with VoiceThread and allow students to report on books or events via Animoto.
    • Request any book you need to complete a project or report & it will be added to the blog within 48 hours.
    Thanks & enjoy!

    Wednesday, November 17, 2010

    Thanksgiving Books


    I am thankful for...books that cost one penny!  Yippee!

    Books for the PreK-1st crowd, Titles T-W


    Books for the PreK-1st crowd, Titles F-P


    Books for the PreK-1st crowd, Titles A-C

    I haven't listed many books for the littlest ones lately, so here goes...

    Best Books of 2010


    Get started on your little bookworms' holiday gift lists now!

     Best Picture Books

    Tuesday, October 5, 2010

    Chemo Girl

    Chemo Girl is the fictional tale of a superhero created by Christina Richmond, who was diagnosed with Rhabdomyosarcoma, a rare type of muscle cancer, when she was in the seventh grade. She was only 12 years old. She wrote Chemo Girl, not only to help herself, but to help other children in similar situations. The idea was to teach a positive, non-threatening side of chemotherapy and to realize there’s always hope.

    Let My Colors Out

    This is an award-winning children’s book that is helping children whose parent or relative has been diagnosed with cancer. It chronicles the story of a young boy as his mother undergoes cancer treatment. The boy uses colors to express his emotions. Sometimes he is sad/blue, angry/red, scared/purple, jealous/green, or even in denial/orange. Throughout his journey, the boy begins to realize that its okay to have all these emotions and letting them out through coloring is healthy. Eventually, he is happy/yellow and learns to cope with his mother’s diagnosis by accepting his emotions as normal.

    The Hope Tree

    A comforting picture book written to help younger children cope with a mother's breast cancer. The authors have created 10 "testimonials" by animal characters in an imaginary support group, allowing each of them to talk about issues they are facing. 

    The Rainbow Feelings of Cancer

    This beautiful, heartwarming book features daughter Carrie's art and writing about the emotions evoked by her mother's illness. Describing her own fears, difficulties and hopes, Carrie doesn't tell her readers what to feel; rather, she gently invites them into her world, offering them an opportunity to speak, draw, or consider their own feelings. Children need to share their feelings and ask questions, especially in stressful times -- and this book subtly and warmly encourages conversation between children and those who love them. 

    Tickles Tabitha's Cancer-tankerous Mommy

    Told through the eyes of it's title character, Tickles Tabitha's Cancer-tankerous Mommy uses candor and comic reality to dispel stereotypes and acknowledge some moody truths faced by families LIVING with cancer.

    Paper Chain

    This is a story about Marcus and Ben, whose mother undergoes surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation. Mom loses her hair and must rest a lot during her treatments. Sometimes the boys feel sad and cross because she can't enjoy the activities she once did, and their parents help them understand their emotions. In time, the woman regains her strength and her hair grows back, and the children are delighted, but she will be closely monitored by her doctor to check for signs of the disease's return. The book, which is factual but not frightening, would be very helpful for families dealing with other forms of cancer and serious illnesses in general. 

    October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month!

    Since October is Breast Cancer Awareness month, I am posting several books for children about cancer. Some deal specifically with breast cancer; all can be used to teach coping skills and help kids express their feelings if they or a loved one is dealing with a cancer diagnosis.

    Wednesday, May 5, 2010

    Featured Author: Shel Silverstein

    Check out these titles by poet Shel Silverstein, then share your own poetry in the Comments section of this post!


    Friday, March 26, 2010

    Private I. Guana

    by Nina Laden

    Leon the Chameleon is missing! Luckily, ace detective Private I. Guana is on the case. This engaging mystery will tickle your funny bone! Click here to listen to Esai Morales read it aloud.

    The Case of the Cryptic Crinoline: An Enola Holmes Mystery

    by Nancy Springer

    Enola is horrified one day to find that her beloved landlady, Mrs. Tupper, has been kidnapped. Using her wealth of disguises, Enola sets out to solve the crime. Kids who enjoy the details of historical settings and solving mysterious ciphers will cheer this feisty heroine as she leaps out of windows, jumps onto the backs of coaches, and fights evil villains in the dark streets of London to rescue her dear landlady.

    Closed for the Season

    by Mary Downing Hahn

    This book starts off as seventh-grader Logan Forbes learns that a murder had been committed in his family's new house three years earlier. Myrtle Donaldson, a bookkeeper accused of embezzling from the local amusement park, was found dead in her ransacked house and her killer is still at large. Logan's next-door neighbor, Arthur Jenkins, a sixth grader with a bottomless stomach and a quirky personality, is convinced that Mrs. Donaldson was falsely accused, and he wants Logan to help him find the real perpetrator.

    This is an enjoyable mystery with just the right amount of frightening and dangerous elements. Logan is a great character — a new kid in town trying to find his place, almost immediately befriended by someone on the lowest rung who turns out the be the right friend for him.

    Creepy Crawly Crime

    by Aaron Reynolds

    In a city totally inhabited by insects, Joey Fly is a private eye combating crime for a fee (which for a housefly is usually crumbs). Recently, Joey reluctantly hired a junior partner, a tough but clumsy scorpion named Sammy Stingtail. Together, the two are hired by a damsel in distress, the beautiful but airheaded butterfly Delilah, to recover her diamond pencil box. Simple, whimsical drawings and humorous dialogue make this a great mystery book for kids.

    The Red Blazer Girls: The Ring of Rocamadour

    by Michael D. Beil

    Sophie and her pals Margaret and Rebecca go St. Veronica’s, on the Upper East Side, where, one afternoon in English class, Sophie screams. She has seen a ghostly face in the church window across the courtyard. The woman is real and needs help!  The dialogue is fast and funny, and the clues are often solvable in this mystery.

    The Case of the Case of Mistaken Identity

    by Mac Barnett

    Aspiring detective Steve Brixton, 12, gets more than he bargained for when he becomes mixed up with crime-fighting and undercover operatives who are also—librarians! The fast-moving plot is sure to hold your attention, and you will love Steve's ability to outsmart many of the adults in the story. This is a fun, humorous adventure.

    Petronella Saves Nearly Everyone: The Entomological Tales of Augustus T. Percival

    by Dene Low

    This book is part farce, part mystery, part political thriller, all told in Petronella's upper-crust voice, laced with humor and a painless dose of history. Characters are skillfully drawn, time and place are clearly evoked, and excitement and intrigue abound amid the hilarity. It all wraps up nicely - well, almost - with a suggestion of more to come.

    Reality Check

    by Peter Abrahams

    Cody sustains a serious knee injury that leaves him on the bench during the most important recruiting year in his high school career. With no college scholarship in sight, he drops out of school. When his rich girlfriend, Clea, is reported missing from her Vermont boarding school, he drives East to find her and endangers himself in the process.

    Monday, March 1, 2010

    The Gardener

    by Sarah Stewart and David Small (Caldecott Honor)

    Where in the big gray city can Lydia ever grow all the seeds and bulbs her Grandma sends her? Will Lydia ever coax a smile from Uncle Jim? Read Lydia's charming letters to find out how one determined slip of a girl brightens her city corner of the grim 1930's world.

    Claudette Colvin: Twice Toward Justice

    by Phillip Hoose

    Nine months before Rosa Parks' stand for equality, 15-year-old Claudette Colvin refused to give up her seat on a Montgomery bus to a white passenger. The unexpected consequences of her decision to take a stand against the injustice of segregation and her perseverance make her an unsung heroine in the Civil Rights Movement.

    The Shepherd's Granddaughter

    by Anne Laurel Carter

    Amani defies family tradition and cultural expectations to become a shepherd, but when Israeli settlers threaten to take over her family’s land, she must choose between violent reaction and peaceful resistance.

    Amelia Earhart: The Legend of the Lost Aviator

    by Shelley Tanaka

    Tanaka writes with the sweep and excitement of an airplane climbing into the sky, while the format and visuals wonderfully enhance the text. In addition to a treasure trove of archival photographs, which capture Earhart’s appeal from her youth, there are a variety of handsomely rendered paintings, starting with the cover illustration that shows Earhart in her plane as crowds of male onlookers cheer. They match the feeling of the historical photos and the tone of the narrative. This is a good choice for those needing a profile of the famous flier.

    My Name is Not Isabella

    by Jennifer Fosberry

    Amelia Bloomer Project List 2010

    Join Isabella as an ordinary day turns into an extraordinary adventure through history!

    Featured Author: Jacqueline Woodson

    Read Jacqueline Woodson's biography in her own words

    The Surrender Tree: Poems of Cuba's Struggle for Freedom

    by Margarita Engle

    Spanning the years 1850–1899, Engle's poems construct a narrative woven around the nation's Wars for Independence. The poems are told in alternating voices, though predominantly by Rosa, a "freed" slave and natural healer destined to a life on the lam in the island' s wild interior.

    Friday, January 29, 2010

    Justin and the Best Biscuits in the World

    by Mildred Pitts Walter

    Sure, he can catch a greased pig at a local rodeo, but can he bake biscuits? Ten-year-old Justin struggles to "feel like a guy" in a family dominated by females.

    Featured Author: Walter Dean Myers

    Read Myers' brief biography in his own words

    The Negro Speaks of Rivers

    by Langston Hughes

    Like the steady and determined flow of a river, this poem carries readers along as Hughes draws a metaphorical connection between the waterways of the world and African-American culture.

    The Rock and the River

    by Kekla Magoon

    True to the young teen’s viewpoint, this taut, eloquent first novel will make readers feel what it was like to be young, black, and militant 40 years ago, including the seething fury and desperation over the daily discrimination that drove the oppressed to fight back.

    Mare's War

    by Tanita S. Davis

    On a parent-mandated cross-country road trip with Mere, their unpredictable grandmother, 15-year-old Octavia and 17-year-old Tali make the transformation from complaining, self-absorbed teens to observant, supportive family members. Mere promises not to smoke if the sisters promise not to use earphones on their way to a family reunion. And then she begins to tell her life story.

    My People

    by Langston Hughes

    Illustrator Smith's artful images engage in a lyrical and lively dance with Langston Hughes's brief ode to black beauty. Dramatic sepia portraits of African Americans—ranging from a cherubic, chubby-cheeked toddler to a graying elder whose face is etched with lines-are bathed in shadows, which melt into black backgrounds.

    Bad News for Outlaws: The Remarkable Life of Bass Reeves

    by Vaunda Micheaux Nelson

    Kids will love the colorful language of the Old West, and the bold and dynamically rendered scenes of the heroic Reeves capturing the bad guys. And, they'll learn how the lawman - who was both greatly respected and feared - used his wits and intelligence, courage and character to bring more than 3,000 criminals to justice with fewer than 14 deaths in the line of duty.

    Thursday, January 28, 2010

    The Witches

    by Roald Dahl

    The Lemonade War

    by Jacqueline Davies

    Thursday, January 21, 2010

    The Girl Who Hated Books

    by Manjusha Pawagi

    Meena is more than a reluctant reader. She abhors books. Even though her parents are avid bibliophiles and her house is filled with reading material, the girl refuses to open a book. Her only ally is Max, the family cat, who has been book phobic ever since an atlas fell on his tail. Only a household accident that sends volumes flying and characters cascading out of books can change Meena's mind.


    Is your bookshelf getting crowded? Try an e-reader! They also make great gifts!

    "I Need My Teachers to Learn" music video

    Post your thoughts about this video below!